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Opening: Friday, July 12 at 12:00pm

Margherita Moscardini (*1981, Donoratico, Italy; lives and works in Livorno, Italy) is interested in places and sites of liminality – whether in the natural, social, cultural, or legal sense of the term. Often departing from a single anecdote or observation – such as a religious sermon being enacted continuously in a place of worship, so as to protect migrants seeking shelter from evacuation, or following the journey of a single material being excavated from demolished neighborhoods in the process of extreme gentrification – Moscardini gradually peels away its layers so as to linger on entangled realities. Using the visual language of abstraction and taking the form of sculpture, drawing, text, and more, Moscardini’s works are socially and geographically anchored at the same time as they are open-ended and speculative.

Not a Project, But a Promise, created by Moscardini for CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo, represents the latest chapter of her long-term research into sites that exemplify the concept of “the commons,” namely sites that exist for the benefit and under the care of everyone but are owned by no one. In particular, the artist examines how the unique status of these sites is maintained and utilized in times of socio-political change. Previous chapters concerned the fortifications that were built along the Atlantic Wall by the Nazis during the Second World War – from the Pyrenees to Norway – as well as public spaces that were used during the protests of Gezi Park in Istanbul, and courtyards and temporary houses built by Syrian refugees in Jordan, in the refugee camp of Za'atari.

This body of work, created especially for the Center’s Ground Floor Gallery, features a series of silhouettes made of fabric that are based on maps of twelve Holy Sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron that are governed by what is known as the Status Quo. This refers to a set of principles that has its roots in the Ottoman rule in Palestine, and which was eventually consecrated into law with the purpose of regulating and protecting sites of worship that are holy to several religions and where various communities practice their faith. This form of internationalization, which has envisioned the Holy Places as the subject of a supranational, cross-sovereign body, is at the core of Not a Project, But a Promise. The governing of the share of time and space within these sites suggests, for Moscardini, other ways of inhabiting space which lie outside of land ownership, offering instead a new model for relations between communities.

“The term Status quo derives from the Latin phrase ‘status quo ante bellum,’ which means ‘the state of affairs before the war’,” the artist explains. “It therefore presupposes the existence of war as a given. As we all wait for a new ‘world order’ around which we can organize, the arts can imagine and point to the exercise of a different, perhaps anarchic, kind of peace that, although it feeds off of the conflict, also repudiates war.”

Moscardini uses abstraction not as a formal language disconnected from the physical reality, but rather, true to its etymology, as something that directly pulls out of it. (In Latin, abstrahere means “to drag away, detach, pull away, divert”). Her pieces of fabric are conceptualized as three distinct constellations of “walkable spaces,” based on floors and courtyards that have been walked on for centuries, which she ‘diverts’into “watchable systems” – systems of signs that we can all see and follow, but that remain without an owner.

Not a Project, But a Promise by Margherita Moscardini is curated by Nicola Trezzi. It is supported by Ambasciata d’italia, Tel Aviv and Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Tel Aviv. Hospitality provided by Outset Contemporary Art Fund.

Not a Project, But a Promise
by Margherita Moscardini

August 31, 2024

July 12, 2024

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